By MarkAnthony Ujunwa Nze
“You must clear the enemy from Obinze in 24 hours or submit your resignation from the army”.
– General C. Odumegwu Ojukwu to Lt. Col. Ogbugo Kalu.
A few hours later, Lt. Col. Kalu valiantly ordered a heavy counter attack with the Biafran forces using the Ogbunigwe mine and victoriously regained 80% of the ground and halted the Nigerian battalions that advanced towards Owerri from Port Harcourt.
Only Col. E.A. Etuk’s Nigeria 16th Division could withstand the heavy, and strategic bombardment that Lt. Col. Kalu championed with nearly 60,000 rounds of ammunition, 300 mortars, 200 howitzer shells, and 20 anti-tank weapons.
The attack on the Nigerian forces was so gruesome to the point that Nigeria’s General Yakubu Gowon had to order the immediate retreat of the rest of his surviving army in that region. But the 16th Division, led by Col. E.A. Etuk, remained resolute and fought gallantly for four months till they couldn’t withstand Kalu’s command of military prowess and his 14th division’s gallantry.
However, it is on record that Col. E.A. Etuk’s tactical withdrawal of the Nigerian forces back to Lagos from Biafra land without any casualties on their part was in fact legendary, and even more glorifying when one realised that he was in his mid-twenties when he carried out the feat.
After the war, and the reconciliation of both warring countries, instead of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s re-absorption of Kalu into the Nigerian Army, in order to tap into his military tactics, having been trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom, and being commander of the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in Kaduna prior to the war; he was not only dismissed but imprisoned.
Col. E.A. Etuk, a southerner from Cross River, the most formidable military commander from the Nigerian side, was never promoted above his rank in spite of his bravery, and military ingenuity during the war till he was retired in his early forties before attaining the retirement age.
Almost all the senior civil servants from Biafra lost their positions, including Professor Chinua Achebe, who was a director at the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, and those that were lucky enough to be retained were made subordinate to the Hausa-Fulani who were previously their juniors in the ministries or parastatals.
What about the financial trauma the Igbos faced? Igbo rich men were only given 20 pounds to start again, despite the fact that they had well above that. However, this wasn’t to last for too long, as the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbos rose again within a short while and conquered that subjugation. The list is endless.
Looking at the injustice meted to the southern part of Nigeria, which in the first place led to the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War of 1967-1970, and is still being unleashed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, it is utterly impossible for the new generation of Igbos/Southerners to stop agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra.
Everything that led to the war, which resulted in the deaths of over 3 million Biafrans, is still present in the ruse known as “One Nigeria,” and instead of addressing the chaotic issues, the Federal Government of Nigeria is busy playing nepotism and tribal politics.
Tomorrow, May 30, is Biafra’s Memorial Day. It is imperative for every Igbo/Southerner who identifies with Biafra to sit at home to honour our fallen heroes who fought gallantly to protect us.